The Linux Gaming Scene via Steam

I haven't been a gamer since the 90s: – Quake, Doom, Half Life etc – so was of the basic opinion that decent commercial games were not really available for platforms other than Windows and consoles, until I looked!

I was pleasantly surprised at the growing numbers of home linux users getting games available for linux platforms via Steam, at quite an amazing visual standard, as can be seen with the previews for newer 64 bit games like Soma (finished it 4th Nov! What a ride!! Great adventure and clever story.):


"Soma is exalted in the Rig Veda, an Indo-Iranian scripture, as a drink that brings immortality and divinity to the drinker. Perhaps taking cue from this reference, Aldous Huxley in his dystopian novel, Brave New World, uses the word 'soma' to refer to a recreational hallucinogen."

"One of the most compelling mysteries surrounding the ancient use of psychedelics revolves around the ritual concoction known as soma. Celebrated in both Hindu and Zoroastrian traditions and scripture, this beverage — which is talked about at length in spiritual texts like the Vedas — is widely thought to have been a potent psychedelic, and it was certainly of immense importance in religious ceremonies. These vivid descriptions paint a picture of a plant extract that was known for increasing awareness, imparting visionary mystical experiences, and helping those who took it to feel strong sensations of bliss, light, poetic inspiration, and immortality."

System Requirements

Mac OS X
SteamOS + Linux


  • OS: 64-bit Major Linux distribution from 2014
  • Processor: Core i3 / AMD A6 2.4Ghz
  • Memory: 4 GB RAM
  • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 260 / AMD Radeon HD 5750. OpenGL 3.3
  • Storage: 25 GB available space
  • Additional Notes: Proprietary drivers. Integrated Intel graphics are not supported. They should work (Intel HD 4000-series or better), but with issues.


  • OS: 64-bit Major Linux distribution from 2014
  • Processor: Core i5 / AMD FX 2.4Ghz
  • Memory: 8 GB RAM
  • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 480 / AMD Radeon HD 5970. OpenGL 3.3
  • Storage: 25 GB available space
  • Additional Notes: Proprietary drivers. Integrated Intel graphics are not supported. They should work (Intel HD 4000-series or better), but with issues.

Everything is so easy now with instant access via Paypal, immediate game download/installation and desktop launcher, after setting up an account on Steam.

You are playing within minutes of the download if you have already installed the steam environment via

sudo apt-get install steam-launcher

I tested my laptop with a cheaper £7 option with a game I knew years back before assuming all would work flawlessly with an expensive new game like Soma at £23, as you never know with Linux and graphics cards…check your specs and read some reviews for your hardware if unsure.


Still, if Steam is in the repos – it must work mostly right? Of course it does…

I took this screenvid of the quality of the original Half Life as a cheaper test to see if all worked well:

Now I can feel more confident about buying a better, more expensive linux compatible game with less chance of having problems, provided my laptop is up to the minimum required specs the game requires. Look carefully as not all of the games ARE ported for linux yet such as Call of Duty3 etc. so best to browse Games by Platform.

System Requirements


  • OS: Windows 7 64-Bit / Windows 8 64-Bit / Windows 8.1 64-Bit
  • Processor: Intel® Core™ i3-530 @ 2.93 GHz / AMD Phenom™ II X4 810 @ 2.60 GHz
  • Memory: 6 GB RAM
  • Graphics: NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 470 @ 1GB / ATI® Radeon™ HD 6970 @ 1GB
  • DirectX: Version 11
  • Network: Broadband Internet connection
  • Storage: 60 GB available space
  • Sound Card: DirectX Compatible


A new game like SOMA is big! 10GB to get, so about 7hrs download time for my 4.6Mb/s ADSL line, but you have a nice window for feedback and transfer rate:


I'll report what I think of the game and performance after I have played it for a couple of days…

3 frustrating days later…

If you are easily frustrated with some puzzles that should make more sense – maybe don't buy this game. Myst logic it is NOT…but the story as a sci fi, ideas and graphics are great (would make a good film), but the challenges are unnecessarily long and drawn out to the point of wasting life and risking laptop assault damage initially. You need a lot of time and patience, which most people just don't have these days. The balance of frustration to enjoyment is too off in my view at first, and likely to lose people – but stick with it – it's an amazing piece of work, and the puzzles become easier as you get used to the style. An interesting story with intelligent philosophical ideas about life, consciousness, technology and it's future as AI.

If you want to check your joystick calibration:

sudo apt install jstest-gtk